We all suffer from the same condition, we are all human. This means that we experience overwhelming emotion sometimes, and it may cause us to lose control of ourselves. We may act irrationally, erratically, or even dangerously. We may insult one another and betray our most trusted friends. Once we have sinned in this way, what should we do? If we struggle repeatedly with the same sin, what do we do?
When Iniquities Prevail, God Atones
Undoubtedly, the stresses and pressures of this life will mount for us all. Sometimes we will find ourselves envious of our neighbors, desiring what they have, and attempt to claim it for ourselves. Other times we will find ourselves in a discussion involving a topic that we are passionate about, and we may lash out at the person on the other side of the conversation. These things will happen, and they will cause us to experience guilt. They will cause us to experience shame. We will be ashamed of the fact that we lost control of ourselves, we will be ashamed of the fact that we have sinned against God. How do we handle these feelings? How do we resolve our guilt and shame?
When iniquities prevail against me, You atone for our transgressions.Psalm 65:3
First, we need to remember that God forgives, and we need to remember that there is nothing too big for God to forgive. God, who formed the earth, the universe, the mountains, and the oceans with His power, has the power to forgive. God, who attends to the earth and waters it, who prepares our grain and attends to our resources with love, cares enough to forgive. There is no sin too great to be forgiven. There is no number of sins which are too cumbersome to forgive. God created this world, He created us with free will and understands us. He knows how the emotions He created impact us, He understands our struggle to understand good and evil, He understands how we wrestle with ourself as well as with Him. It is because of this understanding that God is willing to forgive us for denying His authority.
The Bible is full of examples where God gives humanity a chance to own their actions, to take responsibility for denying His authority and to ask for forgiveness. Even Adam, who had only one rule, was given the chance to take responsibility before judgement was given. He chose instead to blame Eve, and we know how that situation turned out. Cain as well, he was so scared and ashamed of his actions, and of the emotions that led him to those actions, that he pretended it did not happen. When he was given the chance to confess, he chose instead to pretend as though he had done no wrong. He feigned ignorance rather than embracing the truth. It is a shame, because the truth is so simple. The truth is so guilt-free. We are God’s creation, He understands us. Our emotions, our struggle with sin, is God’s design. We are meant to learn the value of honesty, the importance of real truth, and in order to learn that lesson we need to stop hiding from our flaws. More importantly, we need to stop thinking our flaws can be hidden from God. Imagine if Cain had realized this, imagine if he had embraced the truth and confessed to God. Imagine what may have happened if he had simply asked for forgiveness, if he had shown his remorse.
Once we realize this, that God knows our most shameful secrets and still desires to forgive us, to have a relationship with us, then perhaps we can begin to forgive each other as well. If God, knowing all that He does, desires to forgive your enemy, then we should be able to forgive them as well.